Upside-Down Thinking

I recently spent two weeks at Yasodara ashram, a Yoga Retreat and Study Centre. 

While I was there, I used an FM system in classes and satsangs.  Unexpectedly, I ran into some technology glitches. 

I had programmed my FM transmitter to hold six different FM channels.  Normally, in a city, with all the accompanying sources of potential interference, six channels would be more than enough to choose from—I’d always be able to find a channel that sounded clear and static-free.  And yet at the ashram, which is located in a rural setting, every channel sounded staticky.

One evening, Swami Radhananda, the spiritual director of the ashram, was scheduled to speak at satsang. The ashram was abuzz in anticipation. 

The first part of the satsang was crystal clear. Then Swami Radhananda got up to speak. She put my FM microphone on. I could see her lips move, but all I could hear was pure static. Whatever message she had for us, I did not receive it.

There were other technology glitches over the two week period—at times during the most important moments. 

Technology can take you to a new level of functioning when it works well.  But when the technology fails to deliver, it can be frustrating.

I asked myself, why would I be prevented from hearing Swami Radhananda?  What purpose would this serve in the divine plan?

I did all that I could to prepare.  Audiology and FM technology is my life’s work.  I’ve pursued post secondary education to learn all that I can about rehabilitation of hearing loss.  I am a strong self advocate.  I had state-of-the art FM technology with me and conducted equipment checks prior to the retreat and prior to each class. I contacted the ashram before the retreat to inform them of my needs.  And yet, at times, I still could not hear.  Why?

In yoga, a headstand is often used to help bring a new perspective.   In the headstand, you see the world upside down.  Sometimes upside-down thinking is required to see an issue in a new way.

I applied headstand-like thinking to my question. 

Here is part of the answer that I came up with.

Hearing loss can be a gift. 

Through it, I found my life’s calling.

It can be easier to go inwards and not be distracted (for example, during meditation) when I can’t hear conversations and noise around me.   Swami Radhananda said, “Silence is missing from our daily lives.”  When I remove my hearing aid and cochlear implant, all external sound is gone; then I have only to deal with internal noise. 

I can be with pain and not turn away from it.

I had a few other epiphanies along this line of thought that are not appropriate for a public forum.  Some of the questions leading up to the epiphanies (asked by Swami Radhananda):  “Why is there pain, and what is the reason?”  “What needs to be healed?”, and “What kind of internal effort is required to heal?”

I am truly grateful for this experience.

Photo credit:  ©Austinadams


Missed message

Sandra, I find myself wondering whether you endeavored to find out what message the Swami had shared or if you merely accepted that you had missed it - and instead used the experience to reflect on the reasons you had missed it. I think I would have been anxious to know what she had shared... and anxious for an explanation for the technology glitch. It speaks volumes that you could use this experience for introspection and growth. I am inspired to go stand on my head and adopt your perspective (-;
- LB

re: missed message

Hi LB,

I think a big part of my question was, "why did it have to happen at the most important moments?"  Swami Radhananda spoke only once at a satsang during my stay at the ashram.  Why did I hear static during that satsang, and other satsangs were fine?

I guess I like to think that there was a purpose.  In general, I do think that pain of any kind has a purpose.  But this seemed odd--surely I was meant to hear what she was saying?

I did ask my fellow retreat-mates what she said after the satsang. As they tried to condense what they had heard, I felt worse, actually--because they usually ended with, " was amazing."

I never did find an explanation for the static. It could have been a stronger, broadband signal spilling across from the other side of the lake. Who knows!

Thanks for your thoughts. ~Sandra